7 Things To Do When You Don't Know What To Talk About With Your Extended Family

Amidst all the togetherness and traditions that the holiday season holds, there can also be a fair share of undesirable interactions. I’m lucky that I look forward to seeing my family during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but even I sometimes begin to suffocate from those awkward pauses or, on the opposite extreme, those endless monologues you hear from your second cousin’s aunt’s sister that you can’t seem to escape. To relieve yourself of facing some of these moments of tension, here are seven things you can do:

 

1. Read a book

And not just something to convince your family that you spend your Friday nights reading Malcolm Gladwell because you just love being an Econ major so much. You’ve got at least four days where you don’t have to be in school, so dive into something that’s going to be a page-turner! Mystery, romance and classics are typically good places to start.

 

2. Write a journal entry

Sure, maybe you’re not Carrie Bradshaw and you’re wearing boots from the sale section at Target instead of Jimmy Choo’s, but indulge in what’s been on your mind. Put on paper what’s been bothering you or exciting you lately. It can be very therapeutic to write out your likes, dislikes and random thoughts just for yourself.

 

3. Take a walk

I’m serious when I say that bundling up in one-too-many jackets and a scarf up to your eyes is worth it when you have a pretty area to stroll through. Go alone and just feel the wind against your cheeks and smell the pine trees or the scent of cinnamon slipping under people’s doorsills. Or, bring a fun cousin or a S.O. to keep you warm!

 

4. Make a playlist

You don’t want to wrap your presents or prepare your turkey in silence, so pick out some cozy hits that you can snuggle up to! If you’re trying to avoid Bing Crosby and Andy Williams until it’s at least December 1st, then go for classical, indie-alt or ‘50s! Listen to something melodic to melt your winter blues!

 

5. Play a board game

This is a way to feel like you’re communicating with people without having to come up with conversation starters. If most of your family’s busy in the kitchen, maybe pull out a deck of cards and see if anyone's interested. Or, if everyone’s ready to get mildly competitive, you could try Scattergories, Catchphrase or Apples to Apples!

 

6. Binge Netflix

Feeling overstimulated from all of this smalltalk? Get your laptop and take refuge in a corner until someone exposes you. Some of my current favorites are Stranger Things, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The Office, Freaks and Geeks, and Black Mirror.

 

7. Exercise or meditate

Just a few minutes of peaceful, self-reflection a day can help a lot. If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, go on a run or to the gym. Otherwise, you can stretch out and think of a few reasons why you’re grateful this Thanksgiving.

 

I wish you the best of luck in the sea of “Are you seeing anyone?” and “What do you want to do when you’re out of college and in the real world?” It can be stressful, but I hope you can use these tips to have a merry and bright holiday season.

 

Cover Photo by Alex Geerts on Unsplash